(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Edward Bellamy was a failed journalist, novelist, and lawyer before the publication of Looking Backward catapulted him into fame. His socialist utopian novel has been considered one of the most influential books published in the nineteenth century. As a utopian novel, a form that dates from Plato, the novel suggests that there is a perfect form of living and of government.

Bellamy was neither the first nor the last utopian novelist. The publication of Looking Backward was followed by other utopian novels, among them William Morris’ News from Nowhere (1890), H. G. Wells’s A Modern Utopia (1905), and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (1932). Utopian authors try to provide a plan and a program of living for a better society. As in many utopian novels, Bellamy’s conception of the future is without strife, imperfection, or crisis. Similar to other exponents of this genre, Bellamy envisioned his ideal world as a socialistic paradise. Looking at his time and seeing many correctable social ills, including poverty, crime, and labor problems, Bellamy sought to provide a radical remedy.

Bellamy saw the roots of America’s problems in the social and economic structures that set capital against labor in the search for profit. From the huge profits that capitalists acquired through exploitation of the working class, they could “buy” government officials. To stem these practices, Bellamy’s new society...

(The entire section is 585 words.)